After winning the 2005 Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of June Carter Cash in “Walk the Line,” Reese Witherspoon unfortunately caught the Oscar curse, also known as the Cuba Gooding Jr. syndrome, which pulls certain stars into obscurity instead of further propelling their careers. During the years following her big win, Witherspoon starred in a series of fluffy comedies that were box-office duds and gradually became persona non grata for leading major studio releases.
Recently, she’s been trying her hand at a female version of The McConnaissance as she takes on more daring and challenging roles in indies. The tactic seems to be working. After receiving praise for her supporting role as the profoundly damaged romantic obsession to Matthew McConaughey in “Mud,” her performance as Cheryl Strayed in “Wild,” based on Strayed’s autobiography about her 1100-mile hike across the Pacific Crest Trail, is getting rave reviews.
Witherspoon spoke with Vogue about her frustrations with respect to gradually becoming less and less desirable in Hollywood, how “Wild” went from a small book written by a Portland author to a feature adapted by Nick Hornby and directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (“Dallas Buyers Club”), as well as her fears about appearing nude on screen. In fact, she was apparently so worried about shooting the sex scenes that she hired a hypnotist to help her with her nerves.
“She’d never done a scene like this before,” Vallée recalls. “She’s in the place in her life where she has everything. She doesn’t have to do this. She has a husband, a great house, a great career, money, children. She has everything. And yet she’s still compelled to do something great, go outside of her comfort zone, show something new. It’s not about her showing off and trying to do the ultimate performance. It’s just her. ‘I’m almost naked here, and I’m a 37-year-old, and I’m not perfect, but it’s all right, all right, let’s do it.’ ”
And if that wasn’t enough, we also have the first clip from “Wild,” and no, it’s not the sex scene. During this minute-long sequence, we see Strayed (Witherspoon) craving Snapple after a long trek. Before you get on the “Obvious product placement” bandwagon, let’s remind ourselves that it’s highly possible that the real Strayed also loved the taste of a Snapple, especially after hauling a backpack that looks like it’s holding twenty bowling balls through the scorching heat for miles.
“Wild” opens on December 5th. Watch below.